Getaway, Lisa Brackmann, Soho Press Ince, 2012, 307 pp
Lisa Brackmann's first novel, Rock Paper Tiger, captivated me with its exotic location in modern China and its damaged but resourceful heroine, Ellie Cooper. Getaway, though a perfectly acceptable beach read (literally) just doesn't have the same amount of kick. It felt to me like the author was under the pressure inherent in writing a second book; as though she had an editor and a marketing director hovering behind each shoulder.
Michelle Mason, the heroine in Getaway, is her own problem as well as the weakest link in the story. She is using a vacation paid for by her recently deceased husband as a respite from her troubles. That's about all he left her except for a mountain of debt after his financial house of cards collapsed in the economic meltdown of recent years.
Though Michelle numbers among females who live off a man's money without asking questions, she is unconvincingly clueless for a mid-thirties 21st century Los Angeles native. After she lands in a highly treacherous situation between sexy but mysterious Daniel and slimy Gary, she dithers for so long and makes so many bad decisions, I found myself hoping right along with her for the one who is good in bed to rescue her. How could she not know that a guy with deep pockets who brags about having secret government connections might be able to track her through her cell phone?
Now I've waited way too long to tell you that the story takes place in a Mexican resort town and involves that country's brutal drug cartels and their investment capital bedfellows. It's a tense thriller and Michelle's future appears to be doomed. To her credit, she is pretty good at gut-level instincts and she gets tougher and smarter. She went to Mexico to work out how to live a more authentic life but I'm afraid she just might be one of those women who has to rely on luck.
And why am I getting all moralistic and snarky with Lisa Brackmann? Because she proved she has got a lot more to offer in Rock Paper Tiger. I understand she is writing a sequel, so perhaps she just tossed off Getaway in order to stay in touch. That cool. It was fun to read. But I want Ellie Cooper back.
(Getaway is available by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)